An almost entirely new team, a playoff berth for the second year in a row and an outstanding second half against a heavily favored Hutto Hippo team made the season a success for the 2019 Seguin Matadors football team.
The Matadors finished the year with a 5-2 district mark, in what most would call a rebuilding year with new starters across the board.
Head coach Travis Bush was appreciative of the young starters and the success they had in his fourth year at the helm.
“It’s just year four, it’s still a process,” Bush said. “We’re still in the process of building that culture, trying to set foundations and establish traditions.
“The goals, the expectations here at our program have grown to expect to be in the playoffs and competing for championships. In the end, the 2019 football team fulfilled that.”
The Mats were in the hunt for a second district championship in a row until losses to Dripping Springs and Austin LBJ late in the year.
“We were in the running up to the Drip game, competing for a title,” Bush said. “Being in the running in week eight, and obviously getting back in the playoffs, we met those goals and overall with the small senior class, we’re still in positions we haven’t been in.
“For these guys, having a winning season in 2018, and having to come back from that and rebuild with a lot of young guys, it was new territory.”
The small senior class was key for the development of the younger players.
“To the seniors credit, they really took them under their wings, were great leaders and helped develop those guys,” Bush said. “I think it really showed the last part of the season, when those younger guys really became the playmakers for us.”
The Mats went into the bi-district playoff round as huge underdogs against the No. 9 team in the state in Hutto.
“To come out and finish the last game, to go toe-to-toe with one of the top 10 teams in the state, shows you where this program has come and hopefully the caliber of where it can be in the future,” Bush said.
Seguin outscored Hutto 22-10 in the second half, and had a potential game-tying drive late in the game after trailing by 20 at the half.
“It was fulfilling, I was pleased to see the guys competing and fighting,” Bush said. “Even in the first half, when things weren’t going our way, it was all positive on the sideline.
“We saw that every week, but the more momentum we got, the more excited the kids got. It was nice to hear that, because that’s what we’re trying to teach in the program.”
Bush was not surprised that the Mats made a run at the Hippos in the second half.
“Even in the first half, we played with them,” Bush said. “Once we got used to their speed and where they were trying to attack, we got some stops. When we scored, I think the guys realized we could play with them and we just kept fighting.”
As the Mats move forward to next year, the coach espects to see more of the same from his squad.
Running backs Marques Washington and Jerivan Contreras return, as do wide receivers Dravan McKnight, Clark Ullrich, Tristan Moreno and three offensive linemen. Ullrich may be in line to take over at the quarterback position from graduating senior Jhalen Mickles.
On the defensive side of the ball, leading tackler John Michael Mata, Ian Box, Micah Rodriguez and Josiah Luna will all return next year.
“Now we’re back to having a lot of guys with experience coming back,” Bush said. “Last year we lost the majority of our production offensively and defensively.”
“This year we’re bringing it back. The leading tacklers are coming back, our two leading rushers are coming back, four out of our top five receivers are back and the quarterback has experience. There are some things looking forward that we didn’t have in 2019.”
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .